Dieting More Effective In People With Family History Of Obesity, Study Finds

Healthy diet can reduce genetic risk of weight gain

Healthy diet can reduce genetic risk of weight gain

People whose genes put them at greater risks for obesity may reap bigger benefits from sticking to a healthy diet than those at lower genetic risk, according to a new study in the journal The BMJ led by a team of Tulane researchers.

Professor of Epidemiology, Dr. Lu Qi associated with other researchers from Harvard University and Tulane University, examined the findings obtained from two major researches of United States health professionals to investigate further.

If you are genetically susceptible to obesity, you might want to stick to a healthy diet to prevent long-term weight gain, suggests a study. These diets are all rich in fruit and vegetables, nuts and whole grains and low in salt, sugary drinks, alcohol and red and processed meats.

But their takeaway is essentially: Healthy eating will probably help overcome those accursed obesity genes. The earlier study has indicated that the diets with fried foods and higher sugar sweetened drinks may boost genetic associations with the increased body weight.

Participants were categorized as having high, intermediate, or low genetic risk for obesity based on an analysis of 77 single nucleotide polymorphisms known to be associated with BMI and body weight.

The participants' diets were assessed every four years and given scores.

Height was measured at baseline, and information on diet and changes in body weight were gathered every 4 years with questionnaires, from 1986 to 2006. However, the effect was more prominent in people at high genetic risk for obesity than those with low genetic risk.

After 20 years of follow-up, the researchers found that improving adherence to the AHEI-2010 and DASH was associated with decreases in body mass index and body weight. In addition, they note that "the genetic risk of weight gain is attenuated by improving adherence to these healthy dietary patterns".

As with many genetic association studies, the effect of genetic predisposition was small, they write.

They argue that "genetic predisposition is no barrier to successful weight management and no excuse for weak health and policy responses" and say governments and populations "must act to ensure universal healthy diets within health-promoting food environments and food systems".

An important limitation of the study was that it included only health professionals of European descent living in the US, so the results may not apply to other demographic or racial/ethnic groups, Qi's group noted.